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Franklin County's Peyton Ledford (3) celebrates after scoring the Flyers' first touchdown in Saturday's game against Central. Running off the field with Ledford is Brenton Sears (21). Central won 18-16. (Linda Younkin/State Journal)

Expectations were high for the Franklin County-Central football game.

Even with waiting a day, the game lived up the hype.

Central scored the game-winning touchdown with 8.9 seconds left, clinching the district title with an 18-16 victory Saturday at Benny Watkins Field.

The game was scheduled for Friday but postponed because of lightning and heavy rain.

“That was a heck of a game,” FCHS coach Eddie James said. “We showed we’re right there. We can compete with anyone on any night.”

Central (5-0) came into the game ranked third in the state in Class 3A in The Associated Press poll, and FCHS was fourth.

The teams split their two games last year, games decided by a total of 13 points.

The Flyers controlled much of Saturday’s game, leading 16-6 after three quarters.

Central’s only lead came on the winning touchdown.

Franklin County scored on its first drive, which culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Peyton Ledford. The point-after kick was off the mark, leaving the score 6-0.

Central tied the game on a 5-yard run Malachi Williams early in the second quarter. The conversion run failed, and the game was tied at 6-6.

A 35-yard field goal by Owen Powell gave FCHS a 9-6 halftime lead, and Kaden Moorman ran 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Flyers ahead 16-6 with 8:38 left in the third quarter.

FCHS quarterback Nick Broyles suffered an ankle injury in the first half. He played the rest of the game, but he alternated with Jayden Mattison at quarterback.

“He was very limited in what he could do,” James said of Broyles.

Central was in the red zone early in the fourth quarter, and on fourth down at the FCHS 4-yard line, the Yellow Jackets were penalized for an illegal substitution.

That moved the ball back to the 9-yard line, but Central quarterback Vernon Duncan ran 9 yards for a touchdown on fourth down with 9:05 left in the game. His pass on the conversion attempt was incomplete, leaving the score at 16-12 with 9:05 remaining.

During the drive, FCHS was called for being offsides three times.

“We had too many penalties tonight,” James said, “penalties at crucial times that extended drives.”

Franklin County turned the ball over on downs at the Central 33-yard line with 3:32 left in the game.

That began Central’s game-winning drive.

Last season, FCHS defeated Central 14-12 during the regular season at Central then lost to the Yellow Jackets 18-7 in the second round of the playoffs.

Saturday’s game locked up the district title for Central, and the Flyers finish second, swapping places from last season.

“I think we’ve got the kids’ attention,” James said. “We know what we need to do, and we’ll get back to work.”

FCHS (3-1) plays its last regular-season district game Friday at North Oldham.

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